First Minister Peter Robinson said he was “delighted” after Nigel Lutton was officially endorsed as unionist unity candidate for Mid Ulster on Tuesday.
Speaking after the nomination papers were handed in to Ballymena Electoral office the DUP leader paid tribute to Mr Lutton, saying he has local interests at heart.
“I am delighted that we have an agreed unionist candidate for Mid-Ulster,” he said. “Nigel is a terrific candidate with a great local knowledge and a heart for the community.”
In a swipe at Martin McGuinness, who held the Mid Ulster seat since 1997 but stepped down in line with Sinn Fein’s policy on double jobbing, Mr Robinson said the people of the area now have a chance to ‘have a say’.
“This election gives the people of Mid-Ulster the opportunity to have representation in the House of Commons,” he said. “For sixteen years they have had an absentee MP. When important decisions have been made in Parliament, the people of Mid-Ulster have not had a say.
“This election gives them the opportunity to change this situation.
“I wish Nigel every success in the campaign. It has been great to hear about the level of support he has been receiving from right across the community since his selection was announced.”
UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, who also accompanied Mr Lutton to hand in his nomination papers, said on Monday that he saw little reason why Catholics and perhaps even nationalists would not vote for the unity candidate.